What is Employee Onboarding? Everything Team Leaders Need to Know

What-is-Onboarding-Everything-Team-Leaders-Need-to-KnowMention “employee onboarding” in a room full of managers, and you’re bound to get a handful of eyerolls.

For the busy manager, there seem to be far better uses of time than showing a new hire around the office. And for the busy HR professional, there seem to be far more important tasks to do than making sure the managers give said tours.

However, employee onboarding is essential to the success of the employee, the team, and the organization – and includes so much more than office tours. Keep reading to learn about employee onboarding, its importance, and onboarding ideas.


Free download! New employee onboarding checklists


What is Onboarding?


Employee onboarding is the process of introducing and orienting a new employee to your organization, starting the moment an employee is hired. Employees learn the skills, behaviors, attitudes, processes, and norms that will make them successful within an organization.


Why is onboarding important?


However insignificant it appears, a successful onboarding process is essential to the company’s bottom line. Consider these statistics:

  • $11 billion annually is lost to employee turnover
  • Only 13% of employees say they love their job and are not looking for other opportunities
  • 1/3 of employees quit their jobs after 6 months
  • Employees earn a 2% pay increase on average when changing jobs
  • Cost of replacing employees:
    • Entry-Level: 30–50% of their annual salary
    • Mid-Level: 150% of their annual salary
    • High-Level or Highly Specialized: 400% of their annual salary

Don’t waste time, money, and resources on turnover; onboard your employees thoroughly to ensure they stick around.


How do I onboard an employee?


There are a million different ways to onboard employees, ranging from Twitter’s bottle of wine to Amazon’s Pay to Quit program. However, three themes stand out as the key to any effective, engaging onboarding program.


1. Make the workplace home.

One of the most important parts of employee onboarding is orienting an employee to a new space and coworkers. Employees need to feel comfortable in their new environments, and the quicker that happens, the more productive they’ll be. If employees are uncomfortable, they’ll never develop the mental and emotional connection they need to be engaged in their work, resulting in lower productivity, lower performance, and a higher rate of turnover.


Make sure employees know the physical elements of the office (Where’s the coffee pot? The bathroom?), as well as the attitudes and norms (When do people take lunch? Are GIFs acceptable communication?). You can also provide items that make the workspace more personal, such as photo frames, a custom sign, or a coffee mug with the employee’s name.


2. Get to know the individual.

As much as the employee need to know the workplace, the workplace also needs to know the employee. Working with a new peer can be rocky at first, but if tenured employees get to know the new employee quickly, this smooths out a lot of the rough stuff. Introduce the new employee to all team members within the first day, and any non-team peers within the first week.

Encourage your employees to form connections that extend beyond the workplace, which will lead to stronger teams. Treat the team and the new employee to lunch or drinks, where you can talk about your lives outside of work.


3. Communicate about the journey

Employees join an organization expecting to have a bunch of new experiences thrown at them. However, this process can be a bit easier if they know what’s coming their way. Fear of the unknown may be holding your new employee back, but you have the power to combat that fear.

Create a new employee onboarding roadmap that details all the activities they’ll be completing in their first months with the organization. Be very clear about when you expect tasks to be completed and when you expect skills to be mastered. The best onboarding roadmaps are created with lots of time for coaching and feedback, as well. New employees can’t read your mind and have no idea how things in your organization are usually done, so communicate, communicate, communicate.



Now that you know the basics of employee onboarding, are you ready to get down to business? Download these new employee onboarding checklists as a free resource for your team.

Ebook Download: New Employee Onboarding Checklists